Observation

Transcribing an interview with Ian Upton, and heard a comment I made saying that the difference between life now and pre-internet (now 20 years ago) is that then I had to make an effort to be present, to stay in touch with people. Now the effort is to be absent. It takes a real concentrated focus to remove myself from communication with others. With everyone in constant touch with everyone else, it’s amazing any work gets done at all.

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Recent inspirations

Well what am I working on at the moment? Three things this weekend. Yesterday I met with people from mediacore and The Flipped Institute and I hope to be doing more work with them. The Flipped Institute is an onsite focus for all of the discussions around the flipped classroom; the idea of which is to do all of the associative transmission mode stuff outside of the class, so the actual time spent in class can be spent discussing it, building on it, and getting the students to do activities around it. In other words using teachers for what they’re best at. Finally activity-based learning is becoming mainstream (it left me quite Dewey-eyed … see what I did there). I first came across the concept around ’97 / ’98 when the director of a VLE project I was working on (anyone remember Broadnet? It’s now Learnwise) Steve Molyneux produced an online module for his students to learn from, and then used the lecture time to answer their queries about it, and provide one-to-one advice. I think the word “flip” wasn’t around then.

Another thing is a project on creating a bot as an intelligent tutor, and looking at how its design actually will encourage students to engage with it, and how appearance and behaviour influence the affinity the students feel for it; the hypothesis being the greater the affinity the more effective the learning. My job atm? To design the evaluation, which the bot is to conduct itself. :-/

Third thing. Also at the moment I’m working on some stuff for the performance artist Stelarc, and two colleagues, Joff Chafer and Ian Upton. Last year they worked on a performance and installation in Coventry called Extract / Insert and I’m writing it up for a chapter in my most recent book (Making Sense of Space, by Iryna Kuksa and me, coming soon …. ish). The work they did really challenged the distinction between real and virtual, and it was fascinating the way it connected with so many people (and didn’t connect with some too).

Well, how did I get here?

OK … the first real post. I’m not sure what happened with the last one … gave up on the so-called inspiration and clicked “finish” and it posted it. And now I can’t see anything on my screen that says “edit” or “delete” so it looks like I’m stuck with it. An inauspicious start. Though is a good example of a bad experience as a customer.

So … why start a blog? Well I was encouraged to do so by Grainne Conole when I was chatting to her recently. I’ve had a blog for a while over at http://blogs.warwick.ac.uk/markchilds/ but never really kept it up. The reason Grainne was saying is that inspiration comes from being part of a community of bloggers; that if I got myself a spot on a more open community, where people could follow and vice versa, then I would be motivated to blog. Well we’ll give it a go.

I first checked out Steve Wheeler’s blog Learning with E’s http://steve-wheeler.blogspot.co.uk/ but the blogspot interface is horrendous … pop-out sidebars!! Who can deal with them? (Well Steve evidently, not me). So I went back to a platform I first used for the connectivism MOOC back in 2008. Seems to be working for me better so far (apart from the initial post).

I’ve known Steve for about 10 years, and was first inspired to do a PhD by his work, we copresented a seminar on videoconferencing at ALT-C, and he was all theorised up with a transactional distance and I was just saying the equivalent of “well the kids liked it” and I realised I was missing a trick. So his example seemed a good place to start.

The next tricky bit was a name for the blog. I went for inspiration to that a conference presentation I did last year with another friend and colleague Aase Knudsen, on embodiment in the physical and virtual worlds, and how one reinforces the other (and is often overlooked in discussions on telepresence). It seemed like a snappy title (and references Ray Bradbury so can’t be bad) but also summarises the area of technology and education that I’m most interested in, which is how we experience it, and connect to it, and the impact that has on our learning.

So, Aase, Steve, Grainne. The reason I like the job I have (a sort of “freelance academic”) is that there’s a community of people in Technology Enhanced, Supported, E Learning (whatever is the in thing this year) who count as friends, colleagues, inspiration etc. all rolled into one. I guess ultimately the point of the post is to have a voice in that community.

Oh .. .managed to delete the actual first post .. “delete” is apparently called “move to trash” :&